Family Endowments and the Achievement of Young Children with Special Reference to the Underclass
This paper investigates the factors underlying cognitive achievement among young children using a Becker-Tomes model of intergenerational transmission adapted to incorporate transmission of a family's cultural orientation toward achievement. The model relates a child's achievement to parental income and cognitive skills as well as to grandparent's income and education. Using data on PPVT scores for children born to women in the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth, we find large and significant positive effects of the mother's AFQT score, her schooling, and the grandparents' schooling. We also find that increases in the mother's hours at work bear significant negative effects on her child's achievement. This effect is only partially compensated for by higher money income among these young children. A mother's welfare dependence is associated with a reduction in her child's PPVT score, an effect that is not explained by poverty persistence. Evidence that welfare participation signals transmission of low achievement orientation while variables such as maternal education signal positive values is reinforced through the use of a mediating variable measuring the time a mother spends reading to her children.
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